June 19, 2013, (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced today that it is consulting with the Presidency and other ministries to agree on a time for the visit of South Sudan Vice President Riek Machar.
Vice-President of South Sudan Riek Machar (AFP)
The South Sudanese cabinet decided in its weekly meeting of last Friday to dispatch Machar to Khartoum for talks with officials there on the row that erupted this month following Sudan’s decision to shut down its pipelines carrying oil from its southern neighbor.
Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir took the decision on the closure and said it should take effect immediately to punish Juba for its backing of Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebels who stepped up their attacks in border states lately.
The Foreign ministry spokesperson Abu-Bakr al-Sideeg Mohamed told reporters that their inter-governmental consultations are aimed at drafting a program of work for Machar during his stay in Khartoum.
He said that Juba proposed Sunday as a date for Mahcar’s visit.
Sudan has approved of an imitative by African Union (AU) mediator Thabo Mbeki to lower tension between the two countries and address their grievances. It also said that they could reverse their oil suspension decision if Juba stops aiding insurgents.
The dispute over rebel support has been rumbling for months, but the latest threat effectively tears up an agreement brokered by the African Union in March over transit fees that had shut the pipelines for 16 months.
Article source: http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article47014
June 19, 2013, (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir met on Wednesday with Chinese special envoy to Africa Zhong Jianhua to discuss the former’s decision this month to shut down pipelines that carries oil from landlocked South Sudan for exporting into the international market.
President Omer Al-Bashir (Reuters)
Jianhua, who arrived in Khartoum last week, has previously met with foreign minister Ali Karti and oil minister Awad al-Jaz.
According to state media, Bashir explained to the Chinese envoy in details the reasons that prompted the Khartoum to order the closure but he nonetheless renewed Sudan’s commitment to the cooperation agreements signed with Juba last year.
The Sudanese leader also expressed support to African Union (AU) efforts to defuse the fresh crisis between the two countries.
Jianhua on his end said that Beijing backs the AU and international mediators plan to end the row and normalize ties between Khartoum and Juba.
The Chinese official is expected to stop in both Juba and Addis Ababa for discussions on the same issue.
He later met with Bashir’s assistant Nafie Ali Nafie and said that China will work to bridge gap between Khartoum and Juba.
Sudan, aggravated by what it claims is Juba’s continued support to anti-Khartoum rebels, left the door open for reversing the decision if South Sudan gives up its backing to the insurgents operating in border states.
The suspension of oil flow is scheduled to take place within 60 days of Bashir’s directive but last week Khartoum said it accepted proposals of the head of the African Union High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) Thabo Mbeki.
It is unclear if that means a suspension of measures taken to start shutting down the pipelines. Sudan has formally notified Juba and the oil companies of the order and asked the latter to provide a plan and schedule to implement it.
That row threatens to hit supplies to Asian buyers such as China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), India’s ONCG Videsh and Malaysia’s Petronas, which run the oilfields in both countries.
Reuters said that diplomats doubt Sudan will actually close the two cross-border export pipelines because its economy has been suffering without South Sudan’s pipeline fees.
Oil used to be the main source for Sudan’s budget until southern secession in July 2011, when Khartoum lost 75 percent of its oil production and its status as oil exporter overnight.
Article source: http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article47012
June 19, 2013, (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s national assembly narrowly approved a loan from Kuwait after a heated debate on the issue of violating Islamic Shar’ia law which prohibits borrowing money that has interest terms attached.
Sudanese National Assembly Speaker Ahmed Ibrahim al-Tahir (AFP)
Earlier this year, Kuwait and Sudan signed the $85 million loan agreement that aims at expanding electricity in East Sudan and make it available 660,000 people.
The loan was offered at a 2% annual interest rate in addition to 0.5% for administrative fees and a repayment period of 21 years including a 4 year grace period.
Islamic law prohibits accepting the collection and payment of interest, also commonly known as ’Riba’. However, very few Muslim countries enforce this rule. The doctrine of necessity in Islamic legislation allows recourse to loans with forbidden interest in certain conditions.
52 MP’s voted in favor of the loan with 46 against and 9 abstentions.
MP Suad al-Fatih from the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) said that god’s wrath will befall on Sudan for agreeing to this loan and started chanting “God is Great” and “There is no God but Allah”.
“Shame on you for making a Halal [Islamic term for legal] out of something Haram [Islamic term for illegal],” she said after the vote.
Even the lone opposition MP in parliament expressed staunch rejection.
“At the day of judgment there will be no National Assembly,” MP Ismail Hussein said adding that Sudan failed to pay the principal on external debt making it shoot from $15 billion to $41 billion.
But East Sudan MP’s underscored the urgency of the loan with one saying that people in the region are living as if they are in the stone age which justifies tapping the Kuwaiti line of credit.
The Parliament Speaker Ahmed Ibrahim has previously asked the Islamic Fiqh Council for an opinion in light of the necessity and also sought finance ministry input which emphasized the lack of alternatives.
Sudan’s finances have tightened since oil-rich South Sudan seceded from the north in July 2011.
Furthermore, Sudan’s $41 billion foreign debt makes other countries reluctant to extend credit.
Article source: http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article47011